The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: uroboros

Serpentine Sorcery: Whoever is Drawn Near Becomes Defiled

“Resh Laqish said, ‘… If one comes to defile himself, he is provided an opening; if one comes to purify himself, he is assisted” (BT Shabbat 104a).

“Come and see: In the middle of the sky, a lustrous path is woven—Celestial Serpent—all gossamer stars clustered with mounds upon mounds, encharged with requiting the deeds of inhabitants of the world. Similarly, numerous bands of dazzling demons issue from this supernal, primordial serpent—by whom Adam was seduced—and they are all encharged with requiting deeds of the world.

So if a person comes to purify himself, he is assisted from above; his Lord’s assistance encircles him, and he is protected, called ‘holy.’ If a person comes to defile himself, numerous bands of dazzling demons lie in wait for him; they all hover over him, surrounding him, defiling him, and he is called ‘impure.’ They all go in front of him, proclaiming, ‘Impure! Impure!—as is said: He shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!’ (Leviticus 13:45). All of them are linked with that primordial serpent, requiting countless deeds of the world.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq and Rabbi Yose were walking from Tiberias to Lydda. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘I am amazed at that wicked Balaam, all of whose actions stemmed from the side of impurity! Here we learn a mystery: All species of נְחָשַׁיָּא (neḥshayya), sorcery, throughout the world are linked with, and issue from, that primordial נָחָשׁ (naḥash), serpent—slimy spirit of impurity. So all witchcraft of the world is named accordingly: נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorcery, all issuing from this side. Whoever is drawn here becomes defiled. Furthermore, he must defile himself in order to draw upon himself that side of impure spirit. For we have learned: As one arouses, so he draws upon himself supernal holiness from above—and is sanctified. If one arouses the side of impurity, he draws upon himself a spirit of impurity—and is defiled. As already mentioned, we have learned that if a person comes to defile himself, he is defiled.

So in order to draw upon himself impure spirit from that supernal serpent, that wicked Balaam defiled himself every night with his donkey, engaging with her conjugally [see BT Sanhedrin 105a–b; Zohar 3:207a], in order to become defiled and draw upon himself impure spirit; then he enacted his sorcery.

To begin with, he would take one of those snakes and offer up incense before it. Then he split its head, extracted its tongue, took certain herbs, and burned everything—concocting incense. Next he took the snake’s head, split it in four, and concocted another incense. He traced a circle, recited a formula, and performed further rites—until he had drawn upon himself impure spirits, who revealed to him what he needed. Through them he accomplished his acts, by their knowledge derived from that celestial serpent. He continued his acts of sorcery until he had drawn upon himself a spirit from that primordial serpent. This is how he discovered and grasped knowledge of sorcery and divination; so it is written: He did not go, as time after time, to encounter נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorceries (Numbers 24:1)—neḥashim, serpents, literally! The essential root lies in impurity, as has been said; subsequently all begins solely in this….

‘All these practices, all of Balaam’s knowledge—where did he learn it? He replied, ‘From his father. But in those mountains of the East, land of the East, he mastered all kinds of sorcery and divination—for in those mountains reside Uzza and Azael, whom the blessed Holy One had cast down from heaven. Bound in iron chains, they divulge sorcery to human beings; so from there Balaam knew, as is said: From Aram, Balak led me; Moab’s king, from mountains of the East (ibid. 23:7)” (Zohar 1:125a–126a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

Like a Mustard Seed in a Ring

Emeq ha-Melekh

“[Rabbi Berekhiah’s] disciples said to him: Rabbi from above to below we know, but from below to above we do not know. He replied: Is it not all one—below to above and above to below? They said: Rabbi, ascending is not like descending! One can run while descending, but it is not so while ascending. Moreover, the one who ascends can do so by a way other than the [way] he descends.

He sat and expounded for them: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’ (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit §440, 745). And what is Shekhinah? Say that this is the light emanated from the primordial light, Ḥokhmah. It also מְסַבֵּב (mesabev), turns everything around, as is written, Fullness—all the earth is His glory (Isaiah 6:3). What is its function here? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had seven sons, and he assigned each one his place. He said to them, ‘Sit, this one on the back of that one.’ The lowest one said, ‘I will not dwell below! I will not be so far from you!’ Saying to them, ‘I will hereby מְסוֹבֵב (mesovev), swing round, and see you all day long [cf. BT Ta’anit 31a; Vayiqrah Rabbah 4:8; Jeremiah 31:21].’ As is written, Fullness—all the earth is His glory. Why is He in their midst? To stand them up and make them endure” (Bahir §171).

“It has been taught: There are ten גַּלְגָּלִים (galggalim), spheres, and ten מַאֲמָרוֹת (ma’amarot), commands. Each and every sphere has its command. Not that it is surrounded by it, but rather it turns it [see Maimonides, Mishneh TorahHilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah 1:5; Guide of the Perplexed, 2:4–6].

This world is like a mustard seed in a ringWhy? Because of the spirit that blows upon it and sustains it. If this spirit were to be interrupted, the world would wither in an instant [cf. Isaiah 40:7–8; Job 34:14; BT Bava Batra 25a–b]” (Bahir §179).

“All the lights expanding, large and small, appear as the hub of a wheel [lit., כְּעֵין גַּלְגַּל (ke-ein galggal), as the eye of a wheel; or: as the look of a wheel]. All the spheres and worlds and their hosts appear in the center like a mustard seed. And they all go to and fro, whirling, never still….

From the abundant efflux of the great and awesome firmament spread the mighty seraphim, capable masters standing watch, conducting all the worlds—conducting mysterious things arranged by the blessed Holy One when He created the 18,000 worlds [see BT Avodah Zarah 3b; Zohar 1:23b–24a (TZ); Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Numbers 10:35].

Within this firmament the spheres and their hosts are fixed. Because of its overwhelming strength, the spheres appear as a mustard seed. And from this exquisite firmament emanates one fine and lovely spark comprising every kind of תִפאֶרֶת (tif’eret), beauty. It is the light that stands above, reward of the world, covering it” (Berit Menuḥa, Second Way: The Way of Love, First Vowel, Sixth Vowel).

“קָו הַמִדָּה (Qav ha-Middah): Length and Breadth. Qav ha-Middah: Depth and Height. Qav ha-Middah: Circle and Square.

Established to be known through thirteen gates—twenty-six on the two sides. When they are engraved in their engravings, they are all one within this measure. Qav ha-Middah ascends and descends, engraved in its engravings on all sides.

Light Not Existing in Light, engraves, and the Spark of All Sparks bursts forth, striking within the Will of Wills, secreted within it, unknown.

When this Will desires to ramify, this Spark—concealed within Will, befitting and not befitting to exist as color—shoots out. When this Will ramifies, this Spark—splaying color and no color—strikes, entering into that extension, splaying forth in its colors. It ascends, becoming actualized through its ascent within Will and its emanation.

Will strikes its extension in concealment, unknown—emitting gossamer lights, coalescing as one. When they seek to emerge, that Spark, imbued with colors, strikes the extension and it becomes constricted. On account of the pressure, those diaphanous lights emerge, audible as one. Then the Spark displays colors within them, all dyed at once: white, red, green, and black. The Spark lingered there for twelve months, and then they were uprooted, and planted in another place.

This Spark ascends and descends, and is called בּוּצִינָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsina de-qardinuta), Lamp of Adamantine Darkness. Enhancing and striking all the luminous shoots, it decrees, ‘Grow!’ [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 10:6]. Then springs gush forth from that supernal, primordial extension, irrigating and illuminating them all, and they flourish.

With the בּוּצִיצָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsitsa de-qardinuta), Spark of Adamantine Darkness, the One who Shines, shines—ascending and descending, spreading out in all directions. Then it is called קָו מִדָּה (qav middah), Line of Measure, its measurement enduring above and below.

Line of Measure—Spark of Adamantine Darkness, Concealed of all Concealed, lustrous measure, configuring beauty for all. The beauty itself, emerging from the first extension, configures them. They stand within it, poised for calibration above and below.

One who attains this mystery and knows it, merits to know the wisdom of his Master. Happy is his portion in this world and in the world that is coming!” (Zohar Ḥadash 57a).

Who Causes the Tail to Rise Above, Dominate, and Strike?

Snake & his Tail

And now, if you will truly heed My voice and keep My covenant, you will become for Me a treasure among all the peoples, for Mine is all the earth. And as for you, you will become for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5).

And it shall be, if you do not heed the voice of YHWH your God to keep and to do all His commands and His statutes that I charge you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… The sojourner who is in your midst will rise up high above you and you will go down far below. He will put you in debt and you will not put him in debt. He will become the head and you will become the tail. And all these curses will come upon you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed. For you will not have heeded the voice of YHWH your God to keep His command and His statutes which He charged you (Deuteronomy 28:43–45, cf. Zohar Ḥadash, 59b–60a).

“How fortunate are you, O Israel. When you act according to the will of YHWH no nation or tongue can dominate you. But when you do not act in accordance with the will of YHWH you are delivered into the hands of a lowly people, and not only a lowly people but into the power of the beasts of a lowly people” (BT Ketubbot 66b).

“Rabbi El’azar wept. He opened, saying, ‘Her sound will move like a snake… (Jeremiah 46:22). Now that Israel is in exile, She surely moves like a snake. When a snake bends its head to the dust and raises its tail, the tail dominates and strikes anyone in front of it. Who causes the tail to rise above, dominate, and strike? The head, which is bent low. Nevertheless, who controls the tail, and who propels its movements? The head—although it is bent to the dust, it conducts [the tail’s] movements. Therefore, now the other nations—who are attached to the tail—rise above, dominate, and strike, while the head is bent to the dust, as is said: Fallen, not to rise again, [is Virgin Israel] (Amos 5:2) [cf. BT Berakhot 4b]. Nevertheless, this head controls the tail and preserves it, as is said: They made me keeper of the vineyards (Song of Songs 1:6)—the other nations, who are the tail.

Rabbi Yehudah came and kissed his hands, and said, ‘If I had asked nothing in the world except for this, and gained it, it would be enough for me! For now I know how the other nations and their dominion are controlled. Happy is the share of Israel, of whom is written For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His treasure (Psalms 135:4)’” (Zohar 3:119b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘All the princes of the nations ascend or descend because of this one [Metatron]. When he ascends, the princes of the nations descend. When he descends, they ascend. All depends on the children of Jacob!’

Rabbi Yehudah son of Shalom said, ‘Good or evil comes to the world solely on account of the children of Jacob!’

A certain [Roman] hegmon came to Rabbi Abbahu and said, ‘The entire world should assemble against you as against this locust—to obliterate you from the world in a single instant! For if this nation does not worship its Lord, it is written: He will shut the heavens so that there will be no rain, and the earth will not yield her fruit (Deuteronomy 11:17). If she strays, the entire world is destroyed on her account!’

He replied, ‘But it is you who cause her to stray and not to follow the proper path!’ He said to him, ‘It is your sins that rouse us!’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘The hegmon spoke well’” (Zohar Ḥadash 28c, cf. BT Berakhot 17a).

Prayer Should be Elevated Just as One Aims the Stone in a Sling

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“Rabbi Pinḥas said in the name of Rabbi Me’ir, and Rabbi Yirmeyah said in the name of Rabbi Abba, ‘When Israel prays, you do not find them all praying as one, but rather each assembly prays on its own, one after the other. When they have all finished, the angel appointed over prayers gathers all the prayers offered in all the synagogues and fashions them into עֲטָרוֹת (atarot), diadems, which he places on the head of the blessed Holy One” (Shemot Rabbah 21:4, cf. Zohar 2:201b).

Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying: Listen, all supernal ones. Gather, all mortals, masters of the academy above and below. Elijah [i.e., Sandalfon], upon an oath, ask permission from the blessed Holy One to descend here because a great battle awaits you. Come down, Enoch [i.e., Metatron], you and all the masters of the academy under your supervision. Not for my glory, but for the glory of Shekhinah.

He opened as before, expounding זַרְקָא (zarqa), מַקָּף (maqqaf), and so forth, saying: Certainly by the musical intonation, זַרְקָא (zarqa), the prayer should be raised to that known site, like one aims the stone in a sling [cf. Bahir §§89–91, 178]. Just as one aims the stone carefully, so as not to miss the target, so should thought be raised with prayer to that תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, set and adorned. Of this stone they said, ‘[In uttering the tefillah, when one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed,”] and stand upright with [the mention of] the Name’ (BT Berakhot 12a).

And when he raises Her from that site conducting Her to Her husband [one should not interrupt his prayer] even if a serpent is wound around his feet, and even though: and you shall bite his heel (Genesis 3:15) [cf. Psalms 91:13; BT Berakhot 30b: ‘Even if a king greets him he should not answer him. And even if a serpent is wound round his heel he should not break off’]. Nevertheless, the stone is hinted at by the י (yod) of יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov), which is composed of י (yod) and עָקֵב (aqev), heel, as is written: Through the name of the Shepherd and Israel’s Stone (Genesis 49:24)—he does not stop and must raise Her to אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof) [cf. Zohar 1:65a: ‘Come and see: All transpires in the mystery of faith, so that one is satisfied by the other (i.e., so that the lower is satisfied by the higher, and vice versa), so that the one who must, ascends to Ein Sof ‘]. ‘When one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed”’ (BT Berakhot 12a)—he must draw Her down ceaselessly without causing any separation between Her above or below.

Sometimes He is Her husband ו (vav), the Righteous One [Yesod] who includes the six joints of two legs. Then She descends toward Him for the purpose of coupling according to the mystery of two legs [Netsaḥ and Hod]. But at other times, He is Her husband ו (vav) [Tif’eret] which includes the six joints of the two arms: beginning, middle and end. Then She grows and ascends to the two arms [Ḥesed and Gevurah]. At other times He [Ze’eir Anpin] is Her husband and stands between Father [Ḥokhmah] and Mother [Binah]. This is when He is called בֵּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God, and She should be elevated there to Him for coupling. At other times, Her husband is Keter with ו (vav) inserted between י י (yod, yod) like so: א (alef). Then She should be elevated to Him, as She grows with Him and reaches exactly the same rung as He does. When She ascends to Keter, it is written of Her: the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22).

When She rises up to the Head of all Heads the angels ask ‘Where is the place of His glory to admire Him?’ And when She rises She becomes just like a תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, on the head of א (alef)—כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown. When She descends: a point underneath [like so: וִ]. So when She ascends She is called עֲטָרָה (atarah), Diadem, in the mystery of musical intonations, and when She descends, She is called נְקוּדָה (nequdah), Point. When She mates She is like so: וּ. When She is a coronet on His head She is called the letter ז (zayin). The sign of the covenant consists of this because it is the seventh letter in all. Indeed, this Stone is בִּנְיָינָא (binyyana), building, of all the worlds [cf. BT Niddah 45b: ‘And YHWH God יִּבֶן (yi-ven), built, the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21)—the blessed Holy One placed more בִּינָה (binah), understanding, in women than in men’; Sanhedrin 93b: ‘בִּינָה (Binah), understanding, one thing from another’; ibid., 110a: ‘The wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife’]. Because of this: a whole and honest weight-stone you shall have (Deuteronomy 25:15). She is the quantity בֵּין (bein), between, each and every sefirah, and every sefirah amounts with Her to ten. Her stature is ו (vav). Through Her every cubit between each and every sefirah becomes ten cubits. And the secret of the matter: ten cubits the length of the board (Exodus 26:16), and She is between them all. She is ten between every sefirah and ten multiplied by ten totals one hundred; when מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred, is reversed [you have:] אַמָּה (ammah), cubit.

Each and every quantity [that Malkhut measures] is called a world [a quantity of its own]. These are י (yod) and ו (vav)—שִׁעוּר וּמִדָּה (shiur u-middah), height and width [or: stature and quantity]. ו (Vav) is the שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), weight [of the light (Sullam)]; י (yod) is the מִדָּה (middah), width. And the measurement of the quantity is five cubits long and five cubits wide. This corresponds to the measurement of every firmament, which is five-hundred parasangs long and five-hundred parasangs wide. This is the mystery of ה ה (he, he) [in יהוה (YHWH)]; the first ה (he) alludes to width and the lower ה (he) to length, as explained elsewhere.

So here you have the שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), measure of the stature, of Him [Ze’eir Anpin] in יהוה (YHWH), because ו (vav) alludes to firmament of the heavens [Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Its five firmaments, namely the last ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH), is called Five Heavens. This is the additional יהוה (YHWH) that indicates the five firmaments included in the heavens. The upper five firmaments are called Heavens of the Heavens. These are ה ה (he, he) of יהוה (YHWH). The ו (vav) is their sixth firmament. י (Yod) of יהוה (YHWH) is the mystery of Malkhut [the seventh firmament and seven plus seven equals fourteen]. Here are those lands, seven upon seven lands that cover each other like onion rings, which surround each other on all sides. They are all alluded to in the two eyes, and the three colors in the eye: white, red and green. Its white color is Ḥesed, its red color, which are red streaks, are Gevurah and its green color is Tif’eret. The two eyelids are Netsaḥ and Hod, the eye itself is Yesod and the black point is Malkhut.

The י (yod) in the Name יהוה (YHWH) is called a small, or short, world. The ו (vav) in יהוה (YHWH), which is Tif’eret, is the long world. Whomever wishes that his desires be fulfilled by the long world should pray at length, and whoever prays to the short world should pray quickly. Therefore, it has been explained that in a place where they are told to make it short a person should not pray at length [cf. Exodus 14:15]. To pray quickly is like the prayer of Moses, who recited the following short prayer, אֵל (El), pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13) [see Sifrei, Numbers 105 ad loc.], as he addressed the [infinitesimal] point of י (yod) [which is the small, or short, world].

[The place where it was recommended that one should pray at length during times when one is not allowed to curtail the prayer stems from an aspect of ו (vav), as in] וּלְהִתְנַפֵּל (ul-hitnapel), to fall down, [as Moses did:] וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal), And I threw myself, before יְהוָה (YHWH) (Deuteronomy 9:18)—פ (peh) because forty days and forty nights (ibid.), reckons eighty, which is the sum of פ״ (forty) [all this relates to the mystery of the letters פ (peh) and ו (vav), which appear in the word וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal)]. Everything appears in the two מ (mem) one open מ (mem) and one closed final ם (mem) [cf. BT Shabbat 104a], with the י (yod) as a point in the middle, which forms the word מַיִם (mayim), water. From the aspect of Ḥesed, one should pray at length.

In the Holy Name יהוה (YHWH) rises by the fourth tune of the musical intonations. And one should prolong this intonation, which is fourth over the Name of יהוה (YHWH), the mystery of the תְקִיעָה (teqi’ah). The place to make it short is from the aspect of Gevurah, the intonations of שְׁבָרִים (shevarim). This is called the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations. The middle, which is neither prolonged nor shortened, is the mystery of תְרוּעָה (teru’ah). This is the middle pillar and is the mystery of the musical intonations called שַׁלשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain, as it interlinks them [i.e., the right and left pillars] according to the mystery of the שֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ (sheqel ha-qodesh), consecrated coin [שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), coin, is numerically equivalent to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person].

Corresponding to the רְבִיעַ (revi’i), fourth, [musical intonation] which rises there, is חוֹלָם (olam) among the vowels, which is also Ḥesed. The שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [or the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations] corresponds, to שְׁבָא (sheva). In pronouncing this fourth one should raise his voice and in pronouncing the other [referring to the תְּבִיר (tevir), which is Gevurah], one should lower his voice. Because of this, it is called שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [cognate with: שֶׁבֶר (shever), break] as the voice should be lowered [lit., שָׁבוּר (shavoor), broken]. This is done in secret, as is written of the lower Shekhinah: And Her voice not heard (1 Samuel 1:13). תְּרוּעָה (Teruah) is mystery of the middle pillar, called שַׁלְשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain [this is also the mystery of the י (yod), located between the two ם (mem) of אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לַיְלָה (arba’im yom ve-arba’im lailah), forty days and forty nights. This is the mystery of segolta among the intonations (Sullam)].

The fourth of the musical intonations is for raising the voice, the tevir of the musical intonations is for lowering the pitch. Chain holds to the two pillars as a chain joining them to each other. It is like the רְבִיעִי (revi’i) with which one prolongs the word with melody. It is a vowel like the Ḥolam. There is no vowel among the points that does not have a corresponding musical intonation [see Bahir §§36–44]. For example, the vowel Segol corresponds to the musical intonation segolta, the vowel sheva corresponds to the musical intonation zaqef gadol. There is always a vowel corresponding to a musical intonation for all those who know the hidden mysteries.

Rabbi Shim’on opened saying: zarqa, maqqaf, shofar holekh, segolta. The vowel to the right is יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ (Adonai melekh), YHWH reigns (Psalms 96:10). The vowel to the left, shuruq is יְהוָה מָלָךְ (Adonai malakh), YHWH reigned (Psalms 93:1). The vowel [iriq] in the middle, Tif’eret, is יְהוָה יִמְלֹךְ (Adonai yimlokh), YHWH shall reign (Exodus 15:18). Rabbi Aḥa said: YHWH reigns—the supernal world; YHWH shall reignTif’eret; YHWH reigned—the Ark of the Covenant” (Zohar 1:23a–24b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

The Serpent and the Messiah

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“And the human called his woman’s name חַוָּה (Ḥavvah), Eve, for she was the mother of all that lives (Genesis 3:20)—she was given to him for an adviser, but she played the eavesdropper like the serpent. He showed her how many generations she had destroyed. Rabbi Aha interpreted: The serpent was your serpent [i.e., seducer], and you are Adam’s חִוְיָא (ḥivya), serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 20:11, cf. ZḤ 19b).

And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say, ‘God has granted me other seed in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’ (Genesis 4:25). Rabbi Tanḥuma said in the name of Shemu’el Kozit: [She hinted at] seed which would arise from another source, namely King Messiah [i.e., not from Hebrew stock]” (Bereshit Rabbah 23:5).

And this is the lineage of Perez. Perez begat Hezron. And Hezron begat Ram and Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah. And Salmah begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David (Ruth 4:18–22).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’

[Quake and do not offend.] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Ahiyah said: Fight against your impulse and do not offend. The Rabbis explain: Anger your impulse and do not offend.

וְאֵלֶּה (Ve-elleh), And these, are the lineage of Perez (Ruth 4:18). Rabbi Abba said: Wherever אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, occurs, it invalidates the preceding; וְאֵלֶּה (ve-elleh), and these, adds to the preceding.

And Hezron begat Ram (ibid., 19). But was not Jerahmeel the elder son, as is written, The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9)? [Jerahmeel is omitted] because he married a Canaanite woman in order to adorn himself with her, as is written, Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was עֲטָרָה (Atarah)Diadem, Adornment (ibid. 2:26).

And Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah (Ruth 4:19–20). [Why is he called שַׂלְמָה (Salmah)?] Because up to him they formed סוּלָמוֹת (sulamot), ladders, of princes, from him onwards they formed ladders of kings.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, Then did I think: Look, I come (Psalms 40:8). I ought to have sung a song that I have come, since the word אָז (az), then, refers to song, as is said, אָז (az), then, did Moses sing (Exodus 15:1). I was included in the verse No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. [Even his tenth generation shall not come into YHWH’s assembly ever] (Deuteronomy 23:4), but I have come with the scroll of the book written for me (Psalms 40:8). With the scroll—referring to: whom You did command that they should not enter into Your assembly (Lamentations 1:10). The book—as is said, No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. And not only have I been allowed to enter, but in the scroll of the book it is written concerning me. In the scroll—Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David; the bookAnd YHWH said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is the one’ (1 Samuel 16:12).

Rav Huna said: It is written [And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say,] ‘God has granted me other seed [in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’] (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5; 51:8]. Rabbi Berekhiyah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth [lit., Go to yourself] (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah? (1 Chronicles 1:24–26). Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a).

“Rabbi Tanḥum said: Son of Qappara expounded in Sepphoris: These six shares of barley he gave me (Ruth 3:17)—what six shares of barley? Shall we say six shares of barley literally? But was it the way of Boaz to give six shares of barley? Rather six se’ahs. But is it the way of a woman to take hold of six [weighty] se’ahs? Rather, he hinted to her that six sons were destined to issue from her, who should each be blessed with six blessings. And these are: David and Messiah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

David, as is written, And one of the lads answered and said, Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, skilled in playing, a valiant fellow, a warrior, prudent in speech, a good-looking man, and YHVH is with him’ (1 Samuel 16:18)…. Messiah, as is written, [And a shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, a branch shall bloom from his roots.] And the spirit of YHWH shall rest on him, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valor, a spirit of knowledge and fear of YHWH (Isaiah 11:2)…” (BT Sanhedrin 93a–b).

“Come and see: Tamar was the daughter of a priest. Now, would you ever imagine that she set out to whore with her father-in-law, given that she was inherently modest? Rather, she was righteous and did this out of wisdom. She offered herself to him only because she possessed knowledge and contemplated wisdom. So she approached him to act kindly and faithfully; that is why she came to him and engaged in this affair.

Come and see: Because she possessed knowledge and exerted herself in this affair, the blessed Holy One offered assistance in that very act and she immediately conceived. All issued from Him.

Now, you might ask: ‘Why didn’t the blessed Holy One bring those sons through some other woman? Why through this one? But precisely she, and no other woman, was needed for this act.

There were two women through whom the seed of Judah was established, from whom issued King David, King Solomon, and King Messiah. These two women correspond to one another: Tamar and Ruth, whose husbands died first, who exerted themselves in this action.

Tamar enticed her father-in-law, who was next of kin to his sons who had died. Why did she entice him? As is written: for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as wife (Genesis 38:14). That is why she engaged in this act with her father-in-law.

As for Ruth, her husband died and then she engaged in this act with Boaz, as is written: She uncovered his feet and lay down (Ruth 3:7). Engaging with him, she later gave birth to Obed. Now, you might ask ‘Why didn’t Obed issue from another woman?’ But precisely she was needed, no one else.

From these two, the seed of Judah was established and consummated. Both of them acted properly, acting kindly toward the dead so that the world would later be enhanced. This corresponds to what was said: I praise the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2), because when they were first alive, they were not praiseworthy, but later they were. Both of them exerted themselves to act kindly and faithfully toward the dead, and the blessed Holy One assisted in that act. All was fitting!…

It is written: Look, there were twins in her womb! (Genesis 38:27)—they were twins; previously they were brothers [Er and Onan].

Rabbi Ḥizkiyah said, ‘That’s not the implication! Rather, other sons were born.’ Rabbi Abba said, ‘This is why she exerted herself: to recover what had been lost.’

Come and see what is written: As he was drawing back his hand, look, out came his brother, and she said, ‘What a breach you have breached for yourself!—alluding here to the original, licentious breach that he breached, because of which he died. This is implied by the phrase you have breached for yourself—for yourself you have breached a breach, since you had to trouble your Lord; consequently, you will make a breach in other nations. So, he named him פָּרֶץ (Perets), Breach.

After the entire incident of Judah has been told—how he sold Joseph and brought all of this about: for if Judah had said, ‘Let’s return him to our father,’ his brothers would have done so; consequently, his brothers demoted him from dominion over them. After he was banished from his brothers and all this came upon him, Scripture speaks of Joseph: Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Why was brought down? Because the blessed Holy One approved that act, to fulfill the decree that He had issued: Know well that your seed will be strangers… (Genesis 15:13)” (Zohar 1:188a–b, cf. Bahir §§197–198).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!’” (Zohar 2:12b).

“Evil was consumed and good eventually emerged—the one of whom is written: goodly to look on, and YHWH is with him (1 Samuel 16:12, 18)” (Zohar 2:103b).

“Seed of David…. In his anger he is calm, immediately appeased; but he retains enmity like a serpent in the end, for that side provokes this, surrounding on all sides. However, the kernel within the shell and the heart are upright and firm” (Zohar 2:74b).

Tail in the Head: The Elusive Serpent

2235_127246100159_9430_nWho tells from the first the last, and from old what is not yet done (Isaiah 46:10).

“Ten sefiroth belimah—their end is embedded in their beginning like a flame bound to a burning coal. For the Lord is singular, He has none second to Him. Before one, what do you count?

Ten sefiroth belimah—their measure is ten yet they have no end: depth of first and depth of last; depth of good and depth of evil; depth of above and depth of below; depth of east and depth of west; depth of north and depth of south. And a singular Lord—God, steadfast King—reigning over them all from His holy dwelling for ever and ever” (Sefer Yetsirah §§6–7).

There is a thing of which one would say, “See this, it is new.” It already has been in the eons that were before us (Ecclesiastes 1:10).

That which was already has been, and what is to be already has been, and ha-Elohim seeks out the pursued (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, saying, ‘That which is has already been called by name, and what is to be [… already has been] (Ecclesiastes 3:15, 6:10). That which is has already [been]—corresponding to what we have learned: Before the blessed Holy One created this world, He created worlds and destroyed them, until the blessed Holy One entertained the desire to create this world, and He consulted the Torah. Then He was arrayed in His adornments and adorned with His crowns, and He created the world. All that exists in this world was already in His presence, rising before Him, arranged before Him (Zohar 3:61a–b).

“Gravings of engravings, like the appearance of a long serpent, extending here and theretail in the head, head behind the shoulders, pregnant and furious, guarded and hidden” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di Tsni’uta).

“תְּלִי (Teli)—a spark rendered as an illusory serpent. Its tail clinging to orbs, surrounding them. In its might it darkens the seven planets” (Berit Menuḥa: The Second Way, The Way of Love, Eighth Vowel).

The elusive Serpent (Job 26:13).